US Marine Corps Believes Russia Could Invade Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

US Marine Corps Believes Russia Could Invade Iceland

Published October 16, 2018

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Marvin Lynchard, U.S. Marine Corps

Part of the extensive NATO exercises currently being held in Iceland include an exercise conducted by the US Marine Corps that would defend Iceland from invasion by Russia.

The Marine Corps Times reports that while top brass at the corps are reluctant to comment on the possibility of this happening, at least one researcher has done a report for the US Department of Defense which outlines in detail how Russia could invade Iceland, and the planned exercises bear striking similarities to a Russian invasion of Iceland detailed in the Tom Clancy novel “Red Storm Rising”.

In the novel in question, Soviet forces land troops in Iceland and immediate destroy the submarine-hunting base in Keflavík. Control of the island is eventually fought back into NATO possession by US Marines who stage an amphibious assault.

The Trident Juncture exercises being held in Iceland will also include an amphibious landing by the US Marine Corps.

“The lava flows that created the peninsula, however, have left such an uneven surface that it is difficult to walk on, let alone jump onto without breaking a leg.”

The similarities did not go unnoticed by other Marines, who asked top brass at a media roundtable event held on October 10 if the Clancy novel was the inspiration for the exercises. Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller reportedly said that he would not “speculate on people’s perceptions of the planned landings and NATO exercise”.

That said, the Times points out that in 2014, Soviet and Russian military expert Phillip Petersen published a report for the US Department of Defense which went into great detail on how Russia could invade the high north of Scandinavia and how NATO could defeat Russian forces.

The report contains many interesting tidbits about how Iceland’s terrain would make such an invasion difficult at best. “[T]he capital and major port at Reykjavík and the NATO Naval Station at Keflavík are situated on a relatively low-lying peninsula. The lava flows that created the peninsula, however, have left such an uneven surface that it is difficult to walk on, let alone jump onto without breaking a leg. Furthermore, strong winds on the island would make it difficult to parachute onto the relatively small areas that are suitable.” The report adds that access by sea is also tenuous, given the preponderance of reefs, sandbars, rocks and island archipelagos all around Iceland.

Iceland is a NATO country but, having no military of its own, frequently allows other NATO countries to conduct military exercises here. Trident Juncture 18, however, is of a much larger scale than usual, and has provoked anti-militarist sentiment from some members of Parliament.

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